Friday, November 26, 2010

Russia admits Stalin ordered massacre of 22,000 Polish officers in 1940 -

review of Ranard's enclyclopedic Burmese Painting - by Wendy Law Yone -

How wrong can you be? by Dr. Zarni in The Irrawaddy-

--- On Fri, 11/26/10, franz fanon wrote:

Subject: How Wrong Can You Be?, Irrawaddy, 26 Nov 2010
Date: Friday, November 26, 2010, 12:20 PM


How Wrong Can You Be?

When Queen Elizabeth made a public appearance at the London School of
Economics shortly after the start of the 2008 global financial crisis,
she famously asked her influential academic audience why they didn't
see it—the world's worst economic meltdown in decades—coming.

This is a question that one is now tempted to ask the legions of Burma
experts, seasoned Burma watchers and Rangoon-based Burmese elites who
boldly proclaimed the death of the National League for Democracy
(NLD), questioned the relevance of Aung San Suu Kyi, extolled the
virtues of the donor-driven “civil society” and quietly promoted the
generals' election as “the only game in town,” to borrow the words of
Bangkok-based European Union Ambassador David Lipman.

Perhaps the categorical failure on the part of experts and diplomats
to understand Burma's ruling class—its psyche, its mode of operation,
the level to which it will sink in pursuit of its self-serving and
nation-destroying politics and its approach to politics as a zero-sum
game—should humble these foreign diplomats and experts.

The generals' election has laid bare any policy-driven evidence
packaged in faulty explanations about how dictatorships morph into
representative forms of government and why the new structures and
parliamentary space would open up new opportunities for democratic

A great many experts, from Chatham House and the Brookings Institution
to the International Crisis Group and the University of London, have
sinned by constructing political analyses which resonated with the
impatiently pro-business policies of some European Union governments.

Two patently false analyses spring to mind.

British Burma expert and former International Labour Organization
liaison officer in Rangoon, Richard Horsey, created waves among
soundbite-seeking journalists and analytical amateurs among Western
diplomats by circulating his “Myanmar: A Pre-election Primer” (dated
Oct. 18) (
). Dr Horsey boldly predicted: “[W]hile there will undoubtedly be some
irregularities, a fraudulent vote count is on balance unlikely.”

As late as Nov. 3—four days prior to Burma's polls—another British
expert, Dr Marie Lall of Chatham House, who is also a lecturer with
the Institute of Education at the University of London, was extolling
the virtues of the politics of “collaboration” advanced by EU-funded
local NGOs such as Myanmar Egress.

In her own words
( , the
National Unity Party, made up of Ne Win-era anti-democratic dinosaurs,
“is not only set to beat the [junta-backed Union Solidarity and
Development Party] in many constituencies, giving it real power at a
national level, it is also likely to take a different stand to the
current regime on many issues, starting with land-owning rights for
the peasants.”

She concluded: “The elections are the first step out of the impasse
between the military and the wider population. The democratic
hardliners are today fewer in number and are more likely to meet
popular indifference than to lead any popular protest movement, even
should Aung San Suu Kyi be released soon.”

Five days later, Lall's favorite party suffered a resounding defeat in
the clearly rigged election, winning only 5.6 percent of the total
seats contested vis-à-vis the regime's proxy party, which won 76.8
percent of all contested seats.

The election also stripped many Burma experts of any respectability
and undermined the validity of their empirically false projections in
terms of social change via the regime's “election.”

Up until the time when the generals leaked the story of its party
winning a landslide, in the Burma expert world, resistance was
proclaimed futile, dissidents were framed as “idealistic” at best and
“obstacles” to democratization and development at worst, and “civil
society” was spun as the sole path towards Burma's liberation,
development and democracy through electoral evolutionism.

Development, the middle class and modernization were in vogue again,
and dissidents were deemed to be party poopers who are not really
welcome in these circles of influence, grant money and connections.

In these expert discourses, Burma experts were not alone in
romanticizing the emancipatory power of the “free market,”
humanitarian aid, and (farcical) elections in authoritarian contexts,
à la Suharto's Indonesia.

With mind-numbing frequency, diplomats on their Burma “missions”
parroted this self-interested spin manufactured in Burma expert
circles during exclusive luncheons and dinners in places like Rangoon,
Bangkok, Brussels and Berlin, all the while dismissing any argument
that Burma's neo-fascist regime, in its pursuit of a military
apartheid, has no interest in economic reforms, democratic change,
public welfare or human rights.

To top this off, these foreign “civil society promoters” dismissed as
“activists' spin” any alternative analysis which argued that election
or no election, the generals had absolutely no interest in making any
space for anyone who is not part of their inner circle. The natives'
realistic conclusion that the election contained no democratic
potential whatsoever was written off as simply an expression of
“contempt towards the generals devoid of rational discourse, which can
be regarded as one basic element of (Western) democratic culture,” as
Dr Hans-Berd Zoellner, the Christian priest cum Burma expert from
Hamburg University, put it, in reference to my essay “The Generals'
Election.” (

Since the “election,” it has become abundantly clear that as far as
the regime is concerned, foreign Burma experts and donor-patrons of
Burma's “civil society” were good for pro-election propaganda. For the
regime masterfully used these voices to drive an effective strategic
wedge between the NLD leadership (for instance, Aung San Suu Kyi, Win
Tin, Tin Oo, etc) and the party's gullible elements, who went on to
establish a new party—the National Democratic Force—which won only 1.5
percent of all contested seats.

This whole disturbing multifaceted symbiosis among certain diplomats
from some European countries and the European Commission, which are in
effect pushing to normalize Burma's dictatorship, and Burma experts,
as well as select local NGOs propped up with Western donors' money and
political support, represents one of the newest challenges to Aung San
Suu Kyi, the ethnic resistance and the entire pro-democracy

Copyright © 2008 Irrawaddy Publishing Group |

Dr Zarni ( is research fellow on Burma at the LSE
Global Governance, the London School of Economics and visiting senior
fellow at the Institute of Security and International Studies,
Chulalongkorn University.


Compiler's remark: I'll add 'double-agent' to my title for the next
article (see the second comment below)>

Comments: (More to come).

Aung Ba Wrote: 27/11/2010

Very good compilation on the latest developments of Burma. But no
apparent solution is suggested in the article to the ongoing problem
the country is facing politically. Criticizing is easy but suggestion
on more pragmatic approach to the dilemma Burmese people face as a
nation is in urgent need at this time.

Erik Wrote: 27/11/2010

Well, if Mr. Zarni talks about organizations propped up with Western
money he might as well add to that that he himself is propped up by
Western money and that this income will diminish greatly if he has to
stop beating the anti-regime drum, for instance if some change comes
from all of this in the end. Without the regime this guy is out of

I don't know what kind of role Zarni is playing, and what his aim is
by portraying himself as the staunchest critic of the regime and
people from the third force. What I do know is that somebody who is in
the know recently told me that exposing yourself to Mr. Zarni is the
easiest ticket to deportation if you're in Burma.

The guy seems to play some kind of double role...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nobel economics laureate - A. K. Sen - New pressure can remove Burmese generals --

November 21, Financial Times
New pressure can oust Burma’s generals - Amartya Sen

It is difficult for me to talk about Burma without a deep sense of
nostalgia. My earliest memories are all there; I grew up in Mandalay,
between the ages of three and six. But the magically beautiful country I
remember from my early years has now been in the grip of a supremely
despotic military rule for almost half a century, with collapsing
institutions, arbitrary imprisonment, widespread torture, and terrorised
minority communities. The situation has remained terrible for so long that
there is now a kind of defeatism that makes frustrated well-wishers eager
to be thrilled by little mercies. So while Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from
unjust confinement is a great moment for celebration, it is also a time to
think clearly about what the world can do to help her cause.

What can the world do? Many analysts of Burmese affairs have called for an
international commission of enquiry, possibly led by the United Nations.
The case for this is strong, especially after the manipulated elections.
There are, however, immediate measures that can also be taken to put
pressure on the regime.

First, the existing framework of sanctions and embargoes has to be
reshaped. General sanctions that hurt the Burmese people, such as
restrictions on garment exports, can be replaced by those that isolate the
rulers by targeting their own favourite activities. At the top of the list
must clearly be an embargo on arms and armaments of all kinds. There is
also a strong case for sanctions on the commodities – from minerals and
gems to oil and gas – that yield huge profits to the regime. Travel bans
on the personnel running the regime, or those closely associated with it,
can be effectively pursued. Financial restrictions on large transactions
that come from businesses in which the military rulers are directly or
indirectly involved would help too.

Neighbouring countries have a special responsibility. The Chinese
government is the regime’s most important supporter, providing extensive
business connections (not just in oil and gas) and political patronage.
Visitors tell me Mandalay is now largely a Chinese-run city, with most of
the good premises and new constructions being occupied by Chinese
businessmen. But China is not alone: criticisms can be made of the
supportive policies of both India and Thailand. These countries should
realise a change of course is not only morally important, but also in
their long-term interests. The tyrants will, sooner or later, fall.
However, the memory of betrayal of the Burmese people will last much
longer. The intensity of anti-Americanism that is one of the most potent
forces in Latin America today – related to past US support of brutal
dictators – points to something that Burma’s neighbours should want to

Yet a global strategy that goes beyond the neighbourhood is also needed.
Several western countries have strong business relations with Burma, for
example in oil. But as yet neither the European Union, nor the US, nor
indeed Switzerland, Australia or Canada, has used the power of financial
sanctions against the regime. Western countries are sharp on rhetoric in
denouncing Burma’s rulers. But given they do not do what is entirely
within their power to do, it is harder to persuade China, India and
Thailand to do the right thing as well.

Finally, we have to start thinking about how a post-military government
should deal with the culprits of the past, both because that will be an
important issue in a non-defeatist scenario, and because it is part of the
considerations that make the present-day rulers decide what they can
reasonably expect if they yield. Here there is something to learn from the
intellectual leadership of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, about not
threatening bloody revenge but opting for the sagacity of offering safety
in exchange for remorse. Even butchers have to find a “way out” if they
are not to go on fighting – and tyrannising – to the bitter end.

Towards the end of March 1999, I received a phone call from an old friend:
Michael Aris, the husband of Aung San Suu Kyi. I knew then that he was
extremely ill with prostate cancer. Michael told me, as he had done many
times earlier, that the one focus of his life was to help Ms Suu Kyi, and
to work for Burma’s freedom. He did not want to die, but he hoped others
would continue to focus on what can be done. I received a call only a few
days later that Michael had died; it was also his birthday. So Michael
Aris is no longer with us, but the need for the focus he championed is now
particularly strong. In Burma’s recent election we witnessed what Vaclav
Havel has described as “a mockery of free expression in which people vote
in fear and without hope.” But with determination and wisdom, the tyrants
can be made to withdraw, and Burma’s people may be free once more.

The writer, who received the 1998 Nobel Prize in economics, teaches
economics and philosophy at Harvard University.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

VOA exclusive interview with Aung San Suu Kyi

She stressed need for national reconciliation "reconciliation is reconciliation" and "a road map, is a road map" apparently referring to the junta's road map which is said to be at stage 6.

She called on VOA audience to help the NLD's AIDS clinic/home obtain anti-viral drugs and she said although her NLD youth who protected her are not an army and do not hold arms, they have always protected her, and she has confidence they will continue to do so.

She also attributed her strength to her supporters, including her sons.

informal translation and summary kmk

see also International Campaign for Freedom dot blogspot dot com.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi talks about her days and years under house arrest --

Freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi tells of her years under house arrest in Burma

* From: NewsCore
* November 18, 2010 6:27PM

NEWLY freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi gave an insight Wednesday into the daily routine and inner strength that enabled her to endure years under house arrest in Burma.

"It wasn't all that difficult," she told London's The Times.

"I was in my own home. What was I going through? I was simply sitting in my house. I've never been one for going out a lot. I listened to music. I like sketching a bit and so on. I'm a very indoors sort of person, if you like, so it was no great hardship."

She expressed surprise at any perception that she had gone through great hardship, comparing her treatment with those of the estimated 2100 other political prisoners in Burma.

"What do you think it would be like for those who have been imprisoned for years and years and years?" she asked.

"I had regular meditation sessions. I had a lot to do. Really. People seem to be surprised. You want to keep your house clean and tidy - you have to spend some time doing that. And then, of course, reading takes up time and listening to the radio took up a lot of hours every day because I didn't want to miss any of the news about Burma.
"I listened to the Burmese service on the BBC, VOA [Voice of America], RFA [Radio Free Asia], that was about five or six hours every day. It was a big chunk out of my day but I couldn't afford to miss it. Because any news I missed, I missed - no one was going to come in and fill the gaps for me. So that was a duty."

The 65-year-old said she had produced no prison memoir or volume of political writing, explaining: "I didn't write a lot at all because I don't like to -- how shall I put it? -- I don't like to keep writing which might fall into other people's hands."

Suu Kyi has already called for a "non-violent revolution" in Burma as she knuckles down to the task of rebuilding her weakened opposition movement and attempting to open a dialog with the ruling junta.

"I have to confess that I have not really thought that they [the military government] want to talk to me very much but that does not mean that we have to stop trying," she says.

"For me revolution means change, either physical or spiritual or intellectual. It starts in the mind ... and it has to come from the people first. I am immensely touched and honored by the trust that they have in me. But they have to understand that I am not the one who is going to bring about change. They are the ones who are going to help me bring about change."

Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest Saturday, less than a week after a controversial election cemented the junta's decades-long grip on power.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner had been locked up by the regime for 15 of the past 21 years.

Comment left on Irrawaddy webste ref. Daw Suu's recent interview with Irrawaddy --

Tom Tun et al,

It is wrong of you to put the onus for change onto Aung San Suu Kyi's head alone.

This is part of what the military wanted by releasing her and allowing her to give interviews like this days after their sham election.

CHANGE is up to the power holders, mainly.

She has done her part.

If she outlines a "national plan" they will say who does she think she is.

I've said this before and will say this again, don't blame the victim/s.

Change won't come and won't be meaningful until the military realizes it is part of the problem, a big part, and it admits its wrong path and changes it.

Why do you think the millions of Burmese are overseas? Because of spdc or because of Suu Kyi?

Daw Suu is right to be careful what she says.

The junta will always put the blame on her, as you are stupidly doing.

James O'Brien.

Friday, November 19, 2010

US millionaires to Obama -- tax us!

Please sign this petition for Daw Suu's security --

Dear all,
Please sign in this petition

for Daw Suu's security and please forward it.
Ye Htut

Prayer for a bamboo flowering famine -- from Poetry Foundation

Burma has just had one of these in the Chin State -- not to mention famine caused by the junta's policies, forced relocation, war and land grabbing.

Heroic Coldness --

I was one of those who thought that when Dr. Aris was dying, it was a good point for Aung San Suu Kyi to leave and work from exile, and a good point for the junta to show its magnanimity by letting her go. But it did not happen that way.

Another strong supporter of Suu Kyi has said, "If she left she would not be Aung San Suu Kyi."

She does have a martyr complex and a willingness to die and suffer for her country that is deeply troubling to ordinary mortals like me. We want to see her alive and happy, not dead.

Still, there is only one Aung San Suu Kyi, and where would we be without her?

Kyi May Kaung

US House condemns sham election

Subject: House passed resolution denouncing regime's sham election
Date: Thursday, November 18, 2010, 5:00 PM

US House denounces Myanmar elections

(AFP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives on Thursday condemned Myanmar's recent elections and said no government there can be legitimate without the participation of Democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

By voice vote, lawmakers approved a symbolic resolution that "denounces the one-sided, undemocratic, and illegitimate actions" of the country's ruling junta and accused them of consolidating their power with a "flawed election."

"No government in Burma can be considered democratic or legitimate without the participation of Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy, and ethnic nationalities," the measure states.

The resolution also demands "the full restoration of democracy, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and internationally recognized human rights for all Burmese citizens."

The November 7 vote has been widely panned by international observers, and US President Barack Obama said the "bankrupt regime" in the country, generally referred to in Washington as Burma, had stolen the election.

The resolution also called on the junta to "begin an immediate transition" to democratic rule and the "immediate and unconditional release" of all those deemed political prisoners, and pressed the Obama administration "to not support or recognize the military regime's elections as legitimate."

And it pressed the administration to fully implement a 2008 US law aimed at stifling Myanmar's trade in precious stones, a key source of foreign currency.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Burma courts investors after freeing Suu Kyi --

Kavi Chongkittavorn interviews Dr Zarni about Burma --

Dr. Zarni's interview with BBC on sanctions and Burma --in Burmese

For English translation, contact BBC Burmese Service.

Bono - cautious joy over Suu Kyi -- CNN

More on Aung San Suu Kyi's release --

Aung San Suu Kyi's US lawyer Jared Genser interviewed by BBC on sham elections --

John Simpson of BBC interviews Aung San Suu Kyi shortly after her release Nov 13th -

Justin Wintle on a new role for Aung San Suu Kyi -- from CNN

"Victory is Yours, Than Shwe" from the Irrawaddy --

Open Democracy has re-posted my article on Aung San Suu Kyi's role in Burmese politics --

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--